Metaphors and similes are an imaginative galaxy which greater minds than mine have explored. That doesn’t stop me gathering dazzling and original examples to enliven human exchange, expanding the choice of vigorous, beautiful ways to sharpen how we think, read, write and speak.

As relaxing as …

As relaxing as …

Casaubon is a serious-minded studious individual pursuing research so recondite that only he really understands why he's doing it. When his doctor tells him he needs to let up and take it easy for the sake of his health, he takes it like a convict's sentence of hard...

Of rising darkness

Of rising darkness

This simile struck me months before we had heard of COVID-19, and it worked its way to the front of the pipeline quietly and unobstrusively. Only now does it look ominous as we mask up and distance ourselves from other people's exhalations. 'Like an exhalation', a...

As agreeable as …

As agreeable as …

What a satisfying simile for something being agreeable, like the ease and relief of a successful sneeze. How odd that this simile has come to the fore just as we are at home isolating ourselves from pandemic, and sneezes are not to be sniffed at. Be sneeze-free and...

As naturally as …

As naturally as …

Following the death of her husband, Dorothea dutifully tries to repress a deep wish to meet Will Ladislaw. George Eliot conveys beautifully the moment that her longing bursts the dam of her reasoning and restraint, using the simile of a suppressed sob. '... perhaps...

The spread of news

The spread of news

It's some time since I noted this simile for the effective spread of news.  Now, re-reading it as we watch the advance of the Covid-19, I realize it could stand as a metaphor for the effective spread of a virus. Enjoy the simile and bee well, wherever you are. 'News...

Eyes meeting eyes

Eyes meeting eyes

Dorothea stuns a silly, wilful and selfish young woman with her powerful, radiant kindness and, having meant to disdain her, the girl is undone by this unexpected sympathy. I liked the simile of blue flowers conveying the helplessness of her gaze. '... her eyes met...

Someday the history of metaphor will be written and we shall at last grasp all the truths and misconceptions in which this intensely speculative subject abounds.  

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 45

Womanhood slung over your shoulder

A surprising description which conveys a certain insouciance and strident, even defiant, confidence.

'She seemed to carry her womanhood the way men on the docks carried baling hooks on one...

A rolling boulder

Nanny Slagg meets an old man of the Dwellers, the humble people who live limpet-like on the outer walls of Gormenghast castle.  Here he greets the castle's envoy with the...

Of smoke and goats

A refreshing image for a choking smoke.  I tried to find a picture of goats who looked as though smoke might be getting up their nose.

'The smoke was so...

Plucking chickens in Australia

One of the inventive elements of Logue’s metaphors is the way he mixes up eras, blithely planting a country called Australia in an ancient Greek context. And the idea of...

The ground beneath your feet…

Having just re-read a beloved book about the Arctic, this resonates. The fear, loneliness and disorientation of a young girl whose world has been capsized is summed up in a...

The wave foreseen

A magnificent image of a proud and then crashing wave, thundering up a shaken coast, and used to signify the answering cheer of troops.

See also the bestellar reviews, complete...

As open as …

A limpid simile for being open and transparent. If only more people were like Maggie Tulliver, although it can be said that her openness is not without difficulty for her.

...

Pruning exuberance, corroding hope

Borges uses two incisive metaphors to create the effect of some Irish writing on English letters.

'(Irish writers) … made deep incursions into the territory of English letters, pruning all...

A luminous woman

The woman appears after a period of darkness in the boys’ lives, from which women were excluded – she is the first woman the boy sees that he can remember.

‘The woman...

Compass needle obstinacy

Again, one to use in everyday language, I like the idea of obstinacy presented as the needle’s tenacity in pointing in a given direction.

‘… as obstinate as a compass...

The thought of space

Such a subtle and evocative idea, likening a faint, indefinable and glorious feeling not to space, but to the thought of it.

'Aloof and august, He floats in an atmosphere...

How many lifetimes does it take to learn the facts of life?  

(And how long do you have to live to recover from them…?) 

Is it fact that helps us recover – or is it metaphor?  

Source: Molly Peacock,The Paper Garden (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), p. 63 – click here for the bestellar review of this glorious book.

The thinker, with his metaphors, will illuminate the external world through intangible ideas that for him are intimate and immediate.   

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 6

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